Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Serious scallop situation in the Baie de Seine - again.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this long standing dispute between British and French scallop fishermen the jingoistic language used by the media reporting the story with calls to 'send in the navy' and comments like 'sink a few frogs' serve only to further divisions rather than focus on the real issue at stake.

However, when a fishing boat - fishing legally - is bombarded with petrol bombs, the situation needs addressing with the utmost urgency in order to protect the welfare of all concerned.  Fish, whatever their value, are not worth the lives of fishermen - but they are their livelihoods.

This long standing dispute can only be solved by talk - calls to 'send in the navy', sink a 'few frogs' and other calls for similar action will, as history tells, solve nothing.  This has nothing to do with Brexit either - though the consequences of Brexit could potentially result in British fishermen no longer fish in the Baie de Sine as the area off the Normandy coast is well inside the median line between France and the UK and in French territorial waters.

The protest must have been carefully orchestrated by the French fishermen as this video footage shows there is a TV crew aboard one (many of which were not scallopers) of the french trawlers taking part in support of their own scallop fishermen.

Around 1:58 a flare is fired over one of the British scallopers.

This was how France 3 Normandy reported the incident (Translated by Google):

"Forty fishermen from Normandy left very early to sea on August 28, 2018. Their objective? Meet with their English counterparts to express their dissatisfaction with the scallop fishery. A meeting that degenerated into a naval battle!
A naval battle off Normandy! Between 40 and 50 fishermen went to sea early this morning from Trouville-sur-Mer, Port-en-Bessin or Ouistreham (Calvados). They headed for England, off the Seine Bay, to meet English fishermen with scallops.
A meeting that turned to confrontation. The forty or so French boats surrounded the English ships to force them to stop fishing. While the smoke and the insults added more to the atmosphere, some boats were rammed while driving on others. Three boats were damaged with holes in their hulls.
After the first charge, the British retreated before counter-attacking! The boats turned around again and, amid tense exchanges, the gendarmes are busy. In particular, the latter carried out checks on the British.

Unfair competition
The Norman fishermen complain of unfair competition in international waters. Indeed, fishermen flying the tricoluor (French) flag are not allowed to fish scallops before 1 October each year. The English do not have this restriction upon them so can legally fish for scallops in the bay. Consequence: the French must often be content with the result.
"The French regulation requires French fishermen not to exploit the shell between May 15 and October 1. The English do not have to respect this regulation," approves Dimitri Rogoff, president of the Regional Committee for Marine Fisheries of Normandy."
The story was headline news on BBC News at One today - starts at 1302.

Updated BBC report: Scallop row: French police pledge more boats to keep peace

Later in the day the French national maritime news weekly (equivalent of the Uk's Fishing News) posted this follow-up article:

Baie de Seine: Call for the return of "peace on the water"

In the wake of the forceful expedition of 35 Norman ships against five British shells on the edge of the Seine Bay on Tuesday, August 28, Dimitri Rogoff, president of the CRPMEM of Normandy, called Wednesday, August 29 for the return of "peace on the water" .

"It went a little too far on both sides ," said Dimitri Rogoff. There is a time to protest at sea and a time to discuss . But we must remember that the French fishermen have agreed to manage their deposit for a long time and that the British come, collect all because they are not held to the same limits as us. Then they freeze the shell and sell it at low prices in France. It's double standards ... "

"I regret the altercation, but I understand it. It could not finish otherwise , added Pascal Coquet, vice-president of the CNPMEM, president of the shell commission. I hope that will not happen again. " .

No agreement with the English this year

For this lively resumption of the "war of the scallop" has a cause: "The agreement that we have usually with the English, exchange of kilowatt-days against the fact that they do not come to the scallops before the 1 st of October , was not renewed in July , explains Pascal Coquet. As a result, as they are short of fishing days, they threatened to come and make the area " blank" on the scallops and several boats had started a few days ago. "

According to Dimitri Rogoff and Pascal Coquet, as the agreement reached so far with the British did not encompass boats less than 15 metres, their number in the British flotilla has increased in a few years from just ten to fifty. "There was a flaw in this deal, they rushed into it. In July, in the region, then in national, the French fishermen said that the agreement would not be renewed if the English did not accept to include their ships of less than 15 meters in it ..." , explains Dimitri Rogoff.

Resumption of negotiations?

"The British are in their right (when they come out of the 12-mile limit, Ed.) , But as we have not signed an agreement this year, their fishermen may run out of fishing days to use up, adds Pascal Coquet. If they finally agree to include boats under 15 meters in the agreement, we are quite ready to get back around a table. "

The British leader for scallops, Jim Portus, reconnected with his counterparts on the evening of the naval confrontation. And Pascal Coquet said Wednesday, August 29 that he had responded by proposing the resumption of negotiations to find an agreement between the two fleets and remove the tension.

Story courtesy of Alexandra TURCAT from le Marin Posted on 29/08/2018 16:09 | Updated on 29/08/2018 20:02